Switzerland’s Anti-Immigration Proposals Cause Rift with the EU

February 16, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. jeopardize /ˈdʒɛp ərˌdaɪz/ (v.) – to put something or someone in a situation that is likely to result in danger or failure
Example: A leader who does not listen to his people jeopardizes his position.

2. public vote /ˈpʌb lɪk/ /voʊt/ (n.) – a decision on a national proposal that is voted on by the citizens
Example: The implementation of the proposed policy will be decided through a public vote.

3. quota /ˈkwoʊ tə/ (n.) – an allowable and fixed number of something
Example: Each professor must have a quota of 25 students for each class.

4. leftist /ˈlɛf tɪst/ (adj.) – referring to someone who supports liberal or radical political views
Example: The leftist president supports gay marriage.

5. discrimination /dɪˌskrɪm əˈneɪ ʃən/ (n.) – the act of unfairly treating people because of a certain standard
Example: Assuming that he is violent simply because he is African-American is a form of discrimination.


Read the text below.
Anti-immigration initiatives in Switzerland may jeopardize its relationship with the European Union (EU).

Two anti-immigration proposals were put to public vote in Switzerland in 2014. The first was an initiative to reintroduce and enforce quotas on immigrants. The initiative was voted on in a referendum in February last year. Of the five million public voters, 50.3 percent voted in favor of the proposal. The success of the proposal caused tension between Switzerland and the EU, as majority of Switzerland’s immigrants are from EU nations.

It was followed after by another proposal known as the Ecopop-Initiative, which was proposed last November. The initiative aims to limit the number of immigrants from 23 percent to 0.2 percent of Switzerland’s population. The initiative was proposed by Ecopop, a leftist eco-political organization that campaigns for environment protection and population control. Ecopop said that the proposal would moderate Switzerland’s rapidly growing population and reduce the consumption of natural resources.

The initiative was heavily opposed by public opinion. Critics stated that the proposal not only advocates discrimination but can also threaten the country’s economy. Politicians also stressed that the proposal would further risk Switzerland’s relations with the EU. Unlike the previous proposal, Ecopop-Initiative lost the public vote, with 74.1 percent of the voters voting against it.

However, tension still remains between Switzerland and the EU. Although it is not a member of the EU, Switzerland is located within the borders of EU nations. Hence, the country’s economy is highly dependent on its trading relations with EU countries. Switzerland maintains ties with the EU by adopting some of the union’s policies, which would otherwise be violated if Switzerland implements the anti-immigration proposals.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think Switzerland should implement its anti-immigration initiatives? Why or why not?
·         What do you think the European Union should do if Switzerland implements its anti-immigration initiatives? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         Do you think overpopulation is a problem in your country? Why or why not?
·         What do you think is the biggest problem an overpopulated country faces? Please explain your answer.

February 16, 2015